A Retrospective of August

Next month, allgo will celebrate 32 years of uplifting and centering the lives and experiences of queer people of color (QPOC). In that time, many things have changed in the organization, in the community, and in the world. Yet, many things are still the same. Our communities are still working hard, our people are still full of light, and our passion to raise and highlight the voices of QPOC is still going strong.

allgo has spent the last 32 years working and fighting against the violence experienced by our QPOC communities. It is vital that organizations like allgo continue to exist to intentionally hold space for our QPOC communities. allgo strives to foster stronger community in all of our events while working to provide a place where members of our communities can come together to connect, share stories, information, art, and so much more.

In the last month we have had the honor of presenting many different events with, for, and by members of our communities. Check out the recap below:

Gbeda Tonya Lyles facilitated a community discussion titled Let’s Talk: Food & Nutrition, What’s in Your Grocery Bag? where we were able to discuss and learn about the different foods that we eat, how our chosen foods affect our bodies, and the ways to look at the foods we eat more critically. By bringing together our community members, we were able to look more in-depth at the ways that we as individuals and as a community have been taught to approach food. Gbeda Tonya Lyles shared knowledge about how food can be healing and how healing can start by looking at the food we eat, as well as how the colors of our food affect our bodies and how to bring balance to our meals.

allgo artist-in-residence Dora Santana’s sharing of Minha Filha! A Black Trans Daughterhood was a beautiful and moving look into Dora’s life and experiences. More than just a performance Minha Filha! was a look into the very heart and soul of who Dora is, who she was, and the experiences that shaped her. Dora covered topics such as race and colorism in Brazil, her relationship with her mother, and her relationship with herself. Through movement and prose she painted a picture for the audience that was full of light, sounds, smells, and sensations, transporting each person into a place that lives on in her heart, mind, and soul. Minha Filha! is a sharing that is uniquely about the experiences and life of Dora Santana, but one that every person will find familiar and touching.

Tent Revival: A Festival of Black LGBTQ Arts and Prophetics was a community gathering of Black performers, preachers, poets, writers, singers, artists, healers, and more. Over the course of two performance-filled days, members of our communities came together to share, laugh, love, cry, and bask in the light that is black, queer art. Full of sermon, music, and movement the Revival highlighted the inherent spirituality of queerness, and celebrated the magic that is love for ourselves, our community, and for each other.

Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer facilitated a community discussion titled Let’s Talk: Polyamory: Love, Integrity, Jealousy, and Liberation where QPOC could discuss the different ways in which we practice love and caring. This much-asked-for-conversation showed the desire and need for our communities to explore the question “What does love look like?” Covering topics in all aspects of relationship building, from honest and open communication to power structures, and looking critically at privilege and how it affects relationships, attendees were able to share experiences and ask questions. Many attendees expressed gratitude that allgo exists to hold this space, as often times conversations of love and relationships do not center around the unique lives and experiences of QPOC. At the end of the night, many attendees expressed an interest in continuing the conversation. Be on the lookout for part two in the coming months.
We will continue to create spaces with, for, and by our community members to ensure that our QPOC communities continue to grow and flourish. We hope to see you at one of our events soon. To see more pictures of our events or to see what allgo is doing next, check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The importance of intergenerational community building

Our QPOC communities are made up of many different people in many different places in their life journey, which is what makes our communities so amazing and full of light. When we come together to pass on stories, histories, experiences, and wisdom that our communities have gathered and kept, that is the space where community is born. So it goes without saying that when we divide our communities up, whether intentionally or not, we close ourselves off to whole sections of our communities knowledge, strength and power. By creating truly connected communities we are able to create a space where knowledge and ideas can be freely shared, where people can come together to support one another, and where we can see that our communities are not just making it, but that they are thriving.

It cannot be stated enough how important it is for QPOC youth and QPOC elders to be able to interact and spend time with each other. The ability to see people who are not only living similar experiences as you, but are thriving, strong and growing can shape the way a person approaches their life experiences. Many people say that having youth participate in community spaces brings in new and exciting energy, which can be true, but the energy that is put out by our elders is just as just as new and exciting, and just as important to creating healthy communities, while often being overlooked. Our elders are able to bring a life of personal experience, as well as an energy that comes from having more lived experience. When elders are around we are reminded that the light within us shines bright. Only when we are able to create intergenerational spaces are we then able to see the full power of our communities.  

What types of things can we do to foster multi generational spaces? 

Make space for youth and their parents. Often time’s parents are forced to make the difficult decision on whether or not they are able to take part in community gatherings with their children. Let’s be clear, meetings that ask community members for input, but do not welcome parents, youth, and elders are not spaces looking for community involvement. The ability for youth and their parents to participate in community events will not only make events better, but will create a space where communities are able to truly come together as a whole. 

Allow space for youth and elders to participate, offer feedback and ideas, and value that input. Often times youth and elders are made to feel as though their feedback doesn’t matter, or that their ideas will not be taken seriously. Create spaces that are inviting and open, where people are encouraged to participate and share, regardless of age, or experience. Where each idea is valued and taken seriously. Let’s create spaces that are open to the free exchange of ideas and value the input that comes, while nurturing the growth of youth. There can sometimes be this dichotomy in communities. Youth can feel like elders are no longer willing to push the boundaries or have the energy needed, while elders can feel like youth are not looking at things within a historical context, or are replicating things that people have already tried.

Create opportunities for people to interact and socialize. Give time before, after, or during every event for people to interact and chat about things. If the event is about a heavy or serious topic, give time for people to talk about other things as well. Often times our community social gatherings become places where we are protesting, planning, and working. Allow some time for people to come together to talk about other things that don’t have to do with the violence that we are experiencing and instead make time to focus on the light and love we have for each other. By ensuring we have are able to share these spaces together, we are ensure that we are giving time for people to form lasting bonds that hold our communities together. As stated above the spaces where we come together to pass on stories, histories, experiences, and wisdom that our communities have gathered and kept, that is the space where community is born. And the impact of these social spaces on youth, elders, and everyone in our communities is immeasurable.

Creating a strong, healthy, communities is not something that happens overnight. Let’s work together to create spaces where all members of our communities can come together and share information, stories, and life.

Preacher Marvin K. White Speaks About Intentional Joy, Spirit, and Prophetic Placemaking for Black and Queer POC

This weekend, from August 25th to August 27th, allgo will be hosting a 3-day black LGBTQ queer arts revival “service” of poetry, church, performance, community, divinity, gospel house music, and storytelling. This Tent Revival features a star-studded list of brilliant black queer speakers, performers, poets, magic makers, and joy bringers. You can find a full list on our event page.

Now, more than ever, we need to participate in creative and what lead artist and curator Marvin K. White has coined “Prophetic Placemaking” to understand the ways in which the arts and the “spirit of our communities” are being displaced. How do we “ground” in community, practices and spaces, that are safe from gentrifying and political forces?

I had the pleasure of asking White a few questions on his vision and goals for this upcoming event. Interview follows.


Jae Lin: In a few words off the top of your head, what vibe can folks expect from this Tent Revival?

Marvin K. White: Folks can expect a suspension of time, where “the word” is given breadth and room to fill the physical space, the heart space, the spirit space and the head space.

Jae: You have coined the phrase “Prophetic Placemaking,” which has been used to describe the importance of this event. Can you tell us a little more about what “Prophetic Placemaking” means and what led you to come up with the phrase?

White: When I think about “Prophetic Placemaking” I think about the importance of having institutions on our walks to and from home, that remind us that we are on spiritual journeys. It worries me that our landmarks—our public schools, our art institutions and our churches, temples, meditation spaces, mosques, and contemplative spaces are being gentrified. I think about “Prophetic Placemaking” as intentional disruption of the dispensing of our centers, our homes, our churches, and our institutions.

Jae: What context in particular would you say makes an event such as this Tent Revival particularly urgent and necessary?

White: Joy is the context in which I create this event. Joy, because it is our natural state, and we are being told through the destabilization of our home lives, family lives, our kinship and friendship lives, as well as our creative, spiritual, intellectual, sexual, and political lives, that now is not the time for joy. We are being told through dominant culture and dominant narratives, that is the time to worry if you will live or die. So joy, unadulterated, shameless and intentional joy through storytelling and deep hearing is urgent and necessary in these perilous times.

Jae: Who would you encourage, with the most emphasis, to attend this event?

White: I would encourage those who love a good story, good company, good church, good people, those who write about religion and spirituality in contexts of POC’s and those who live out a religion and spirituality as POC. I encourage poets, and prophets, and spirit folks, however they define what ever is working for and through them from the supernatural into the natural to bring forth a balm for an aching people. I encourage community, students, family and friends of black queer folks who want to bear witness to the heart opening and pouring that this event will surely produce. And oh, the lovers of house music—an old low gospel house music!


 

Tent Revival: A Black LGBTQ Performance & Prophetics Festival will be happening all weekend at 701 Tillery Street, Austin, TX 78702. For more information, festival schedule, and to RSVP click here.